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New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teamm New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true. Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed. During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp. Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it's just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn't immediately needed. But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he's dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins. But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family? Gripping and moving, Sooley showcases John Grisham's unparalleled storytelling powers in a whole new light. This is Grisham at the top of his game.


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New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teamm New York Times bestselling author John Grisham takes you to a different kind of court in his first basketball novel. Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon is a raw, young talent with big hoop dreams...and even bigger challenges off the court. In the summer of his seventeenth year, Sam­uel Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime: a trip to the United States with his South Sudanese teammates to play in a showcase basket­ball tournament. He has never been away from home, nor has he ever been on an airplane. The opportunity to be scouted by dozens of college coaches is a dream come true. Samuel is an amazing athlete, with speed, quick­ness, and an astonishing vertical leap. The rest of his game, though, needs work, and the American coaches are less than impressed. During the tournament, Samuel receives dev­astating news from home: A civil war is raging across South Sudan, and rebel troops have ran­sacked his village. His father is dead, his sister is missing, and his mother and two younger brothers are in a refugee camp. Samuel desperately wants to go home, but it's just not possible. Partly out of sympathy, the coach of North Carolina Central offers him a scholar­ship. Samuel moves to Durham, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season. There is plenty of more mature talent and he isn't immediately needed. But Samuel has something no other player has: a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America. He works tirelessly on his game, shooting baskets every morning at dawn by himself in the gym, and soon he's dominating everyone in practice. With the Central team los­ing and suffering injury after injury, Sooley, as he is nicknamed, is called off the bench. And the legend begins. But how far can Sooley take his team? And will success allow him to save his family? Gripping and moving, Sooley showcases John Grisham's unparalleled storytelling powers in a whole new light. This is Grisham at the top of his game.

30 review for Sooley

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    WOW! First, it helps if you are any sort of sports fan. Without a doubt, this is my favorite Grisham ever. 10 of 10 stars!

  2. 4 out of 5

    NILTON TEIXEIRA

    What can I say? Love it or hate it, I will understand. This is not a courtroom drama. This is not the usual book that we expect from Grisham. But one thing is for sure, Grisham is an amazing storyteller. There were plenty of dramas and the conclusion was truly heartbreaking. But if you are not into sports, especially basketball, you may have a hard time enjoying this book, unless you have no problem skimming (expect lots of skimming!). I’m not a fan of basketball, however, because the author describe What can I say? Love it or hate it, I will understand. This is not a courtroom drama. This is not the usual book that we expect from Grisham. But one thing is for sure, Grisham is an amazing storyteller. There were plenty of dramas and the conclusion was truly heartbreaking. But if you are not into sports, especially basketball, you may have a hard time enjoying this book, unless you have no problem skimming (expect lots of skimming!). I’m not a fan of basketball, however, because the author describes everything with such skill and passion, I was completely absorbed by the storyline. I even had goosebumps when Sooley hit the basket The development of the storyline is terrific. I loved the main character, Samuel Sooleymon. I was truly entertained and I enjoyed this work. The best part is that I had no expectations. I did not read any review or the synopsis. I went blind and I was surprised.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    I'm not an avid sports fan so I was reluctant with Sooley, a story about a young basketball talent from South Sudan. GR friend Tim, referred this book as his "favorite Grisham ever" so obviously I have to give it a chance. I love Grisham legal thrillers in general and this is my first sport story by him. I'm glad I decided to read it, although I haven't a single clue what's going on during basketball games, but Sooley is character driven and I enjoyed the story, a human story. 🏀 I'm not an avid sports fan so I was reluctant with Sooley, a story about a young basketball talent from South Sudan. GR friend Tim, referred this book as his "favorite Grisham ever" so obviously I have to give it a chance. I love Grisham legal thrillers in general and this is my first sport story by him. I'm glad I decided to read it, although I haven't a single clue what's going on during basketball games, but Sooley is character driven and I enjoyed the story, a human story. 🏀

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Sooley follows 17 year old Sudanese basketball player, Samuel Sooleymon (Sooley), who has the chance to travel to America for an international tournament and be scouted by college coaches. While he’s a great player in Sudan, he’s not up to par with most of the others at the tournament. He also receives devastating news about his family back in Sudan when he’s in the US. This of course shifts Sooley’s focus from basketball to family — Heeding the advice from his coaches to stay put for now due to Sooley follows 17 year old Sudanese basketball player, Samuel Sooleymon (Sooley), who has the chance to travel to America for an international tournament and be scouted by college coaches. While he’s a great player in Sudan, he’s not up to par with most of the others at the tournament. He also receives devastating news about his family back in Sudan when he’s in the US. This of course shifts Sooley’s focus from basketball to family — Heeding the advice from his coaches to stay put for now due to the dangers and limited communications in Sudan, Sooley commits to do whatever it takes to help his family, including playing for and working at North Carolina Central College. Sooley is different than the handful of Grisham legal stories I’ve read over the years — The basketball focus is heavy here. As an avid bball fan, I enjoyed this, but can see how others may not enjoy it at the same level. Sooley is a classic underdog story — You want to root for this young, ambitious man who has been through so much already. The story took some turns I did not see coming, and didn’t necessarily like, but overall, it was a good read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    I know that it has been said many times before, but John Grisham is a master storyteller. He has a way of bringing his characters to life with his words. Sooley is a very different type of book for Grisham, although I have now discovered it is not his first book about sport. His love of the game of basketball shines through in this emotional novel that will break your heart. Samuel Sooleyman is 17 when his dream of playing basketball in America comes true. He leaves his family in Sudan and travel I know that it has been said many times before, but John Grisham is a master storyteller. He has a way of bringing his characters to life with his words. Sooley is a very different type of book for Grisham, although I have now discovered it is not his first book about sport. His love of the game of basketball shines through in this emotional novel that will break your heart. Samuel Sooleyman is 17 when his dream of playing basketball in America comes true. He leaves his family in Sudan and travels to the US to play in a showcase, where he needs to impress to earn a scholarship to stay. He is a very talented player, and can jump higher than most other players. But tragedy strikes his family while he is away. His village is ransacked and his father is murdered. His sister is taken by rebels and his mother escapes with his 2 younger brothers to a refugee camp. He immediately wants to go home but this is a chance of a lifetime and what could he do if he returns. So he stays and throws everything into his game, practicing whenever her can to be better, to be the best - for himself and to make his family proud. You will fall in love with Sooley, I certainly did. He is a loveable, strong willed character and he knows what he wants. His family and basketball are the most important things to him. The US is like another planet to him and he struggles to find his way through a normal teenage lifestyle. He is not a character that I will forget. Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a copy of this book to read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Josh Olds

    John Grisham’s latest novel released this past week and, like always, rocketed to the top of the NYT bestseller’s list. Unlike most of his novels, Sooley is not a legal thriller but a sports novel focusing on a fictional South Sudanese basketball player. Grisham has made these forays into sports before—Calico Joe (baseball), Playing for Pizza (football), and Bleachers (football)—but they were smaller, shorter endeavors at around 50,000 words. Sooley is a full-length novel birthed out of the COVI John Grisham’s latest novel released this past week and, like always, rocketed to the top of the NYT bestseller’s list. Unlike most of his novels, Sooley is not a legal thriller but a sports novel focusing on a fictional South Sudanese basketball player. Grisham has made these forays into sports before—Calico Joe (baseball), Playing for Pizza (football), and Bleachers (football)—but they were smaller, shorter endeavors at around 50,000 words. Sooley is a full-length novel birthed out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of 2020 March Madness. Grisham, an avid sports fan, decided to fill the time spent not watching sports toward writing this sports story. To add in an interesting second storyline, Grisham chose to have the titular Sooley—Samuel Sooleyman—come from the war-torn country of South Sudan, home to basketball greats Manute Bol and Luol Deng. The premise is a promising one, because Grisham is able to tell two contrasting stories. The first story, after Sooley’s work ethic leads to a position on the national team and a college scholarship, combines a fish-out-of-water story with an immigration story with an escaped-the-hood story wrapped out the Cinderella story of a March Madness to remember. The second story is about Sooley’s family in South Sudan. Shortly after Sooley leaves, raiders burn his hometown, killing his father and kidnapping his sister. His mother and brothers escape, eventually making their way to a refugee camp. It’s an interesting study in contrasts that highlights two vastly different lives. A question I kept asking myself as I read this novel was “Do serious, nuanced themes require serious, nuanced storytelling?" Sooley, for all its thematic elements dealing with the Sudanese refugee crisis, doesn’t really deal with it in any substantive way. He has this deep and tragic storyline and its never used to its full potential or talked about with depth. My reluctant answer is “No, not always.” If Grisham did so, his books wouldn’t be at the top of the NYT list. They wouldn’t be “easy reading.” And in that, many would have even less awareness of the refugee crisis in South Sudan than the little Grisham gives them. Think deeply enough about Sooley and you’ll uncover a plot that reveals the elitism of American society. Sooley has value to America as an entertainer. And not even a particularly good one. He’s a third-string guard for a small-time university. But because he has the potential to entertain, all roadblocks to his immigration and citizenship are cleared. Meanwhile, there are thousands of refugees—Sooley’s brothers and mother included—who have no value to the United States because they cannot play basketball. It’s a poignant contrast, but one that Grisham fails to draw out. The first three-quarters of the novel progress in standard sports book/movie fashion. Sooley is not a good basketball player, but he’s got height (you can’t teach that) and he’s got a great work ethic (which makes him teachable at everything else). He makes the most of the opportunities he’s given and it leads to an improbable run through their conference and into March Madness. Unfortunately, Grisham gives us very little in the way of how this happens. Sooley, for all the weightiness and trauma behind his story, seems not to feel any of it. He plays a mediocre season then, suddenly and magically, he begins to hit threes (which Grisham repeatedly and annoyingly calls “bombs”) at a rate that would be unbelievable if Steph Curry wasn’t a real person. It’s all just a bit much and Grisham doesn’t do the work of convincing the reader to suspend disbelief. Nonetheless, I was willing to call this an average, rah-rah sports novel—one that will sell well, then you’ll see hundreds of copies in your used book stores in a few months—until the last quarter when Sooley took an incredible twist. Perhaps it was because Grisham realized he’s virtually abandoned the B-plot in South Sudan. Perhaps it was because he’d overwritten his typical sports novella length and, not wishing to edit, deciding to add a shocking twist to push the novel to full-length. Whatever the case, it’s not a good decision. What happens from the end of the March Madness run through the end makes absolutely no sense given the story that Sooley had set up so far. Then, just so as to not end on such a cynical note (which would have been preferable), he crams in a final subplot about Sooley’s mother and brothers so absurd it makes the rest of the book seem believable. Grisham, you lost me at about 70,000 words in, which, with some editing, could have come in at the same size as your other sports novels. You had a simple, straightforward story that hid some deeper themes within it. Pushing the novel to full-length through a series of absurd twists took a perfectly serviceable but mediocre sports novel and turned it into an irredeemable mess.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tooter

    5 Stars!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Henry

    John Grisham is a great storyteller. I have read all of his books and "Sooley" is no exception. However, without giving away any spoilers, I found some events in the book troublesome; others may disagree. If anyone who has read the book cares to have a discussion about it, I would like to do so. I am still going to give this book 5 stars and recommend it highly simply because it is a great story. John Grisham is a great storyteller. I have read all of his books and "Sooley" is no exception. However, without giving away any spoilers, I found some events in the book troublesome; others may disagree. If anyone who has read the book cares to have a discussion about it, I would like to do so. I am still going to give this book 5 stars and recommend it highly simply because it is a great story.

  9. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    4.5 stars First let me tell you that I am not a basketball fan, which is about the only sport that I know very little about and do not watch or follow. Therefore I could have used about 5 less play-by-play games during this book. However, the plight of Samuel Sooleyman and his Sudanese family more than made up for reading through too many basketball games. Samuel Sooleyman - better known as Sooley to his team mates and fans - barely made the cut on a South Sudanese basketball team with a chance 4.5 stars First let me tell you that I am not a basketball fan, which is about the only sport that I know very little about and do not watch or follow. Therefore I could have used about 5 less play-by-play games during this book. However, the plight of Samuel Sooleyman and his Sudanese family more than made up for reading through too many basketball games. Samuel Sooleyman - better known as Sooley to his team mates and fans - barely made the cut on a South Sudanese basketball team with a chance to play in America. He is just seventeen. And he is not the best player on the team. But with hard work and determination Sooley begins to shine. While Sooley is trying to make his way in America the civil war is escalating in his home country. His village is wiped out and he has lost track of his family. His only saving grace is his college roommates family. Sooley becomes an icon and it is on his jump shot that his team makes the Final Four - something thought impossible and never attained before. Sooley knows that going pro is the only way he will ever get his family moved to the United States. He stars on the journey. There are some twists and turns in this novel and by the time they begin to appear you are fully in love with Sooley and his plight. Even though he is now a basketball star, he is still the underdog and you are fighting right along beside him. Fighting for his personal success and fighting for the removal of his family from a refugee camp in Uganda and into safety of the US. Things do not seem to move along as Sooley had hoped, but then nothing is a guarantee, and of all people Sooley understood that. As far as the author - this is John Grisham - what else can I say?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ann Reinking

    Way too many detailed descriptions of basketball games and a really stupid ending.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    I don't pay attention to the book blurbs from this author, he's an auto read and I request them when they appear on my library's website. But I will say that I expect a law thrill, so color me surprised when as I started to listen to this one I realized it wasn't a law thriller, more a coming of age and one that will break your heart on so many levels. I don't know how a person could not like Sooley, he was so happy. Happy to be given a chance to play basketball, happy to see all the new things i I don't pay attention to the book blurbs from this author, he's an auto read and I request them when they appear on my library's website. But I will say that I expect a law thrill, so color me surprised when as I started to listen to this one I realized it wasn't a law thriller, more a coming of age and one that will break your heart on so many levels. I don't know how a person could not like Sooley, he was so happy. Happy to be given a chance to play basketball, happy to see all the new things in the US, just happy. But when life back home took a turn, Sooley rolled with the punches, let the people he trusted guide him and Sooley ended up playing college ball. The season wasn't exciting, Sooley was red shirted, the school he was at, not one of the big names, but then things started to happen and the players started to fall, which in turn had the coach turning to Sooley early. From there it seemed like life exploded for Sooley, so many things happening, so many opportunities for him and the other around him that they took advantage of to the fullest. Sooley had the world at his feet and ready to take it on. Funny how one small thing derailed everything and in an instant the whole world changed. I really hated what I was hearing, hated that the smile was gone, hated that the promise was gone. The rest of the book was a bit of a downer, but there were hints that good could still happen and it did. While I still hate the bad that happened, I think what was done in the aftermath was a great nod to the one that started to make it happen.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    It may benefit with a bit of skimming but the game plays are like listening to a game on radio. It moves along pretty well.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn in FL

    2.5 for most of it, A SPORTS PHENAMONA TAKES TEAM TO THE TOP! CAUTION - UNPOPULAR OPINION AHEAD with Modest Spoilers I love John Grisham's writing for the most part and was very intrigued when we are introduced to Samuel Sooleymon, a South Sudanese teenager, looking for success and escape from his dangerous world of tribal warfare via playing competitive American College Basketball. You will love Samuel. He is hard working, driven even to improve himself and nature works with him as he grows more 2.5 for most of it, A SPORTS PHENAMONA TAKES TEAM TO THE TOP! CAUTION - UNPOPULAR OPINION AHEAD with Modest Spoilers I love John Grisham's writing for the most part and was very intrigued when we are introduced to Samuel Sooleymon, a South Sudanese teenager, looking for success and escape from his dangerous world of tribal warfare via playing competitive American College Basketball. You will love Samuel. He is hard working, driven even to improve himself and nature works with him as he grows more than 6 inches from 6'2 in one 9 month period and adds 50 pounds of muscle to boot, all so he dominates his opponents on court. He is kind, smiles, avoids controversy and is always agreeable. He is laser focused on establishing citizenship, so he can bring over his family after a particularly hostile attack in his village, leaving his father dead and a sister who is missing and perhaps is believed deceased. Good plot? I thought so, too. My problems is that this story is so basketball driven that I kept waiting for crumbs and tidbits about Sooley (as he becomes known) and his family, that I started getting very bored. What we know about him was basically told to us for the most part. In fact, there is little dialogue except when the coaches are talking about upcoming games. The college women are supposedly throwing themselves at him to the point he goes into hiding but all we actually know about is Robin, his roommate's former girlfriend, visits his dorm room with an offer to reveal her "assets" to which he says no and asks her to leave, this was about six sentences. Oh, yes, and he let his knees touch his roommate's older sister's knees at a meal. Seriously? He is almost 18 and he is pure as the driven snow (I could buy this if I actually heard him dialogue with others). He is portrayed as being gregarious though media shy but we don't see it, we are informed by the observing narrator. I thought his character is very flat and likewise all the other characters in the book. I felt the most developed character was maybe his coach, who hopes to parlay Sooley's success with a career move to a better school with greater notoriety. If you like sports and action driven stories this story offers that in spades. However, if you are looking for a story with three dimensional characters it is a great disappointment. I have read nearly every Grisham story written, I really used to like his stories and thought his "Playing for Pizza" was okay. However, my lack of interest in basketball made this one big yawn fest, however I did get a few good naps out of it. I was hoping that I would learn more about basketball but that didn't never happened either. What did surprise me was the extent of the money involved in college sports, I knew it was huge (I enjoy football and used to follow my alma mater), but basketball is pretty astounding too. Even more, the issues surrounding the geopolitical situation in Sudan was just mentioned in passing and used only to set up the story without much depth. This story had great potential, its delivery for me was an utter disappointment. I'm sure I expected to much since it was written by Grisham. I'm sure this will be talked about by the "virtual" water cooler and book clubs, but for me it missed the mark. I'm glad so many are enjoying this and I am an outlier. So, to those who like action movies and fast paced stories this is probably a good read for you. Isn't that what makes reviews fun, opposing opinions so that we can suit our unique tastes? It is what makes the world interesting.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    One doesn't become a best-selling author without knowing how to tell a story, and Grisham has obviously obtained a rare level of success that indicates he can effectively connect with readers. In interviews about this book Grisham says he decided to break from his legal thrillers and write a basketball book after the 2020 NCAA tournament was cancelled and he was missing his basketball fix. What he created strives to simultaneously capture college basketball and the issues faced in a war-torn Sout One doesn't become a best-selling author without knowing how to tell a story, and Grisham has obviously obtained a rare level of success that indicates he can effectively connect with readers. In interviews about this book Grisham says he decided to break from his legal thrillers and write a basketball book after the 2020 NCAA tournament was cancelled and he was missing his basketball fix. What he created strives to simultaneously capture college basketball and the issues faced in a war-torn South Sudan, but his laziness as a researcher ruins any chance of a reader gaining insight into either of these settings. As a basketball fan I bought the book to read about a small-college experience, but Grisham has little understanding of the culture, the routines, or how to describe college basketball practices or games. Sooley's development is unbelievable--even with Grisham emphasizing how hard he works--as he becomes the best shooter in college history and puts up unbelievable numbers (14 threes in a game! 58 points!) despite very little actual game experience in his life. Most games are described briefly if at all, but Grisham's inability to write a compelling game narrative means this is no great loss. His favorite adjective is "perfect"--there are an extraordinary number of "perfect passes" for a mediocre mid-major team--and he loves players to throw behind-the-back passes (Sooley's behind-the-back alley-oop shows how little Grishman understands the game; try to find such a pass on YouTube). Sooley begins jacking up 35-40 footers and rarely missing, something Steph Curry can only dream about, despite less than a year earlier having a completely broken shooting form. Even the tournament is nonsensical for anyone who follows March Madness: Florida, at 22-12 with wins against Kansas and Kentucky, .500 in conference, losing in the SEC finals, is a play-in for the 16 seed? And a 26 point favorite in that game? Has Grisham ever seen a bracket? Then there's this head-scratcher: "Never in the tournament's storied history had a number 16 beaten a number one. Same for fifteen, fourteen, thirteen." (For the record, 16s have won once, 15s nine times, 14s 22 times, and 13s thirty times). I'll add that his editor was apparently absent from this entire process, as Grisham says Florida is scheduled to play Duke on Friday in Memphis, and in the NEXT PARAGRAPH says "They're already talking about Duke Thursday night in Memphis." Thirty dollars for a book and you find this blatant error that any copy editor should have noticed. Meanwhile, the African scenes are exposition-filled descriptions with minimal emotional resonance or sense of environment; one suspects Grisham read some newspaper articles--at best some long-nonfiction--about refugees in Africa and threw it into his book. Few characters here have depth or resonance, and most of the writing focuses on how people act without insight into how they feel or think. One gets the impression Grisham wants you to be horrified by the circumstances Sooley's family faces, but he doesn't have the talent to make you empathize with their struggles. Grisham clearly doesn't know how to stop Sooley's meteoric rise, so he relies on the example of Len Bias in a way that is infuriating and empty. He touches on issues of fame and sudden access to everything one could want, but with so little depth it reads like an escape hatch instead of a morality play. One can't help thinking Grisham decided to toss off a book during quarantine, read some articles about Africa, and threw something together to make a quick $50 million. And I was a sucker for trusting him. Won't happen again.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    This is a rare case of disappointment from Mr. Grisham. BIG disappointment! I am a fan of his storytelling, and it is very much on display here. This is not a legal thriller, but one of his occasional sports-related tales. It's not my favorite subject, but he got me very invested in this story and the character of Sooley. I can't really go into my complaints about this book without spoilers, so I'll simply say it's emotional manipulation, and leave it at that. This is a rare case of disappointment from Mr. Grisham. BIG disappointment! I am a fan of his storytelling, and it is very much on display here. This is not a legal thriller, but one of his occasional sports-related tales. It's not my favorite subject, but he got me very invested in this story and the character of Sooley. I can't really go into my complaints about this book without spoilers, so I'll simply say it's emotional manipulation, and leave it at that.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aniruddha M

    From the war ravaged badlands of South Sudan to the glitzy world of the NBA draft, Samuel Sooleymon has come a long, long way. With an abundance of God gifted talent and tenacious hard work, Sooley is an instant hit in the College Basketball 🏀 circuit. The NBA draft comes calling! Back home, his family is struggling in a refugee camp, fighting daily for food, water and shelter. Sooley's goal is to bring them all here to the US, whatever be the cost! Please read my detailed review from the link bel From the war ravaged badlands of South Sudan to the glitzy world of the NBA draft, Samuel Sooleymon has come a long, long way. With an abundance of God gifted talent and tenacious hard work, Sooley is an instant hit in the College Basketball 🏀 circuit. The NBA draft comes calling! Back home, his family is struggling in a refugee camp, fighting daily for food, water and shelter. Sooley's goal is to bring them all here to the US, whatever be the cost! Please read my detailed review from the link below https://www.aniblogshere.com/book-rev... Do visit🏃🏽, read 📖, like 👍🏼, comment 💭 or share 🚩 🙏🏼🙏🏼 #sooley #johngrisham #basketball #nba #southsudan #bookfan #bookreviewer #bookworm #booklover #booklove #booklovers #bookbuzz #books #bookreview #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookblogger #bookblogging #blogger #suspense #book #booksarelife #booksaremagic #bookreviews #bookaddicts #booksarelove #sportsstories #sportsnovel #civilwar #refugeecamp

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lorna

    Sooley was a beautiful and touching book written by John Grisham in the middle of the pandemic last year spurred on by the March Madness in 2020 being cancelled and leaving a lot of us craving our favorite college basketball teams at the "Big Dance." March Madness has been a delightful family challenge that we have all embraced and enjoyed for many years, but alas it was not to be. While we all sulked and felt deprived of the posting of our brackets, John Grisham wrote a novel about basketball a Sooley was a beautiful and touching book written by John Grisham in the middle of the pandemic last year spurred on by the March Madness in 2020 being cancelled and leaving a lot of us craving our favorite college basketball teams at the "Big Dance." March Madness has been a delightful family challenge that we have all embraced and enjoyed for many years, but alas it was not to be. While we all sulked and felt deprived of the posting of our brackets, John Grisham wrote a novel about basketball and what a lovely and inspiring book it was. When I first saw that it was coming out and I saw the cover (and how magical it was), I knew that I had to buy it for our grandson who has been a basketball fan since he was five years old. He turns nineteen this year and this is to be his birthday present. So I have had this book and it has been calling to me, and now the book may be "gently used by his grandmother." I am a John Grisham fan and I especially love when he steps out of the courtroom into a sports venue and this was one of his best. Samuel Sooleymon is a seventeen year-old South Sudanese teenager having a chance of a lifetime to come to the United States to play in a showcase basketball tournament. It is during this time that his village in south Sudan is raided and burned to the ground leaving his family in dire straits. But he works hard and stays in the United States, vowing to bring his family to join him. And what transpires of Sooley's story is sometimes heartbreaking but also soaring as he is able to reach new heights. "He picked up a game jersey, the same one he had shown the team back in April. 'You've seen this before. It's a plain gray jersey with matching shorts. No fancy logo. No name on the back. Nothing that says, 'Look at me.' We will wear these unremarkable uniforms to remind ourselves of the simple and humble origins of our people. These uniforms will constantly remind us of where we come from. And when we distinguish ourselves on the court, and we are asked why we wear such simple clothes, we will proudly say that we are South Sudanese. Our country is young and poor, but we will make it a better place."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wade

    “Sooley. By the time you said his name, and saw that smile, you knew that you loved him.” “Rich versus poor, private versus public, elites versus upstarts. The commentators feasted on the story. And everybody was looking for Sooley.” “Sooley! Sooley! Sooley!” First off, I devoured this book in two days. I’m a sucker for a John Grisham book, regardless of the subject matter. In “Sooley”, Grisham trades the courtroom drama for the hardwood court. As an avid basketball fan, I gobbled up every word. An “Sooley. By the time you said his name, and saw that smile, you knew that you loved him.” “Rich versus poor, private versus public, elites versus upstarts. The commentators feasted on the story. And everybody was looking for Sooley.” “Sooley! Sooley! Sooley!” First off, I devoured this book in two days. I’m a sucker for a John Grisham book, regardless of the subject matter. In “Sooley”, Grisham trades the courtroom drama for the hardwood court. As an avid basketball fan, I gobbled up every word. And in true John Grisham fashion, he teaches us another lesson about the underdog as well as atrocities going on in our world. Samuel “Sooley” Sooleyman is a South Sudanese teenager who finds his way to America through basketball. He’s a boy who has seen too much in his homeland but who always has an infectious smile and positive attitude. Even when tragedy strikes his family back home, Sooley works toward the singular goal of becoming the best basketball player he can with the hopes of one day reuniting with his loved ones. And through this journey, Grisham gives us a story with sports, heart, emotion, and even a little dose of law while we root once again for the underdog. Courtroom or hardwood court, it doesn’t matter. Grisham is a storyteller with a message.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Winkie Wheeler

    4 for the story. 2 for the writing. Grisham is a master storyteller and this was a good one but the writing... who wrote this one? Really, did he give the story outline to his summer intern to flesh out? The basketball theme was exciting and the South Sudan situation was heart wrenching but the rest, meh. It felt like Grisham wrote the game scenarios and an intern wrote the rest. Samuel’s totally out of character ending felt like a mean manipulative plot device just to wrap up and it made me ang 4 for the story. 2 for the writing. Grisham is a master storyteller and this was a good one but the writing... who wrote this one? Really, did he give the story outline to his summer intern to flesh out? The basketball theme was exciting and the South Sudan situation was heart wrenching but the rest, meh. It felt like Grisham wrote the game scenarios and an intern wrote the rest. Samuel’s totally out of character ending felt like a mean manipulative plot device just to wrap up and it made me angry. This was a big disappointment. Book 25 of pandemic year two, 2021

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jean-ann Stump

    I absolutely loved this book until the end. That is the reason for the low rating.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Una Tiers

    This is not the writing that John Grisham is capable of writing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Susan Seaman

    I had no idea what this book was about. I was interested purely because of Grisham’s reputation as an author and assumed it would be good based on previous novels of his that I’d read. Sooley is beyond good, it’s excellent. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. A beautifully written story that I will read again in the future. This one goes at the top of all time greats for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    4.5-5 stars. Any Grisham book is an automatic read for me. This one surprisingly took place at a different court. I thought his storytelling was great. I know the subject won’t be for everyone, but I love basketball, especially NCAA, and really enjoyed this rather quick read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Only John Gresham would have the heart and talent to create this lovely story of a phenom from South Sudan, brought to the U.S. to play basketball while the horrific civil war rages in his home country. In an interview, Gresham reveals that he loved playing the sport while in school, but that this is his first basketball novel. Written to satisfy his "sports itch" after the pandemic closed down The Big Dance last year, how he and his family love college basketball and how he supports UVA despite Only John Gresham would have the heart and talent to create this lovely story of a phenom from South Sudan, brought to the U.S. to play basketball while the horrific civil war rages in his home country. In an interview, Gresham reveals that he loved playing the sport while in school, but that this is his first basketball novel. Written to satisfy his "sports itch" after the pandemic closed down The Big Dance last year, how he and his family love college basketball and how he supports UVA despite living in a houseful of Tarheels.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is Sports/Fiction. As I read this author, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get. I have a love hate reaction with his stories. Probably because I haven't enjoyed the more recent Grisham novels. So it was a pleasant surprise that I liked this one. However, it didn't draw me in like his earlier legal thrillers did. I like Grisham's story lines and the journey of his characters. He can think up some great ideas. And in this one, I really enjoyed the basketball play by plays, which is why This is Sports/Fiction. As I read this author, I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get. I have a love hate reaction with his stories. Probably because I haven't enjoyed the more recent Grisham novels. So it was a pleasant surprise that I liked this one. However, it didn't draw me in like his earlier legal thrillers did. I like Grisham's story lines and the journey of his characters. He can think up some great ideas. And in this one, I really enjoyed the basketball play by plays, which is why this gets 3 stars and not just 2. But if I'm being honest, it is hard to get a feel for any emotional depth of his characters. I can see them, but I don't always understand them. And this is the main issue (which is a big one for me) that I have. So 3 stars because I did like this one, I just didn't love it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nurse Lisa In Ohio (PRN Book Reviews)

    Holy wow. What a CAPTIVATING story by a master story teller! Book hangover is real from this one…I’m a huge college basketball fan, so this one resonated on a totally different level. Read it. 5 Sooleymania stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Legal eagle and mystery maven Grisham shifts gears with a novel about roundball. What possessed Grisham to stop writing about murder in the Spanish moss–dripping milieus of the Deep South is anyone’s guess, and why he elected to write about basketball, one might imagine, speaks to some deep passion for the game. The depth of that love doesn’t quite emerge in these pages, flat of affect, told almost as if a by-the-numbers biography of an actual player. As it is, Grisham invents an all-too-believab Legal eagle and mystery maven Grisham shifts gears with a novel about roundball. What possessed Grisham to stop writing about murder in the Spanish moss–dripping milieus of the Deep South is anyone’s guess, and why he elected to write about basketball, one might imagine, speaks to some deep passion for the game. The depth of that love doesn’t quite emerge in these pages, flat of affect, told almost as if a by-the-numbers biography of an actual player. As it is, Grisham invents an all-too-believable hero in Samuel Sooleymon, who plays his way out of South Sudan, a nation wrought by sectarian violence—Sooley is a Dinka, Grisham instructs, of “the largest ethnic class in the country,” pitted against other ethnic groups—and mired in poverty despite the relative opulence of the capital city of Juba, with its “tall buildings, vibrancy, and well-dressed people.” A hard-charging but heart-of-gold coach changes his life when he arrives at the university there, having been dismissed earlier as a “nonshooting guard.” Soon enough Sooley is sinking three-pointers with alarming precision, which lands him a spot on an American college team. Much of the later portion of Grisham’s novel bounces between Sooley’s on-court exploits, jaw-dropping as they are, and his efforts to bring his embattled family, now refugees from civil war, to join him in the U.S.; explains Grisham, again, “Beatrice and her children were Dinka, the largest tribe in South Sudan, and their strongman was supposedly in control of most of the country,” though evidently not the part where they lived. Alas, Sooley, beloved of all, bound for a glorious career in the NBA, falls into the bad company that sudden wealth and fame can bring, and it all comes crashing down in a morality play that has only the virtue of bringing this tired narrative to an end. Using a word association psychological assessment, a fairly common response to the name “John Grisham” would be “court.” The acclaimed author has centered almost all of his bestselling books in, near or around a courtroom or courthouse. SOOLEY is his 36th novel for adults, and while a great deal of the action takes place on a court, it is not where attorneys work their magic --- it is a basketball court where college athletes dribble, shoot and score. When you have almost a permanent position on bestseller lists around the world, you are entitled to some latitude in the books you write and the characters you create. SOOLEY is not Grisham’s first foray into sports. Three previous novels --- BLEACHERS, PLAYING FOR PIZZA and CALICO JOE --- were football- and baseball-themed. His latest effort tells the story of Samuel Sooleymon, a 17-year-old South Sudanese basketball player who journeys from his African homeland to the United States to participate in a tournament against national and international opponents. Recently interviewed in the New York Times, Grisham made his case for his latest novel simply by stating, “I’ve been wanting to write a book about college basketball for a long time. I love sports. I love sports stories. I especially love college sports, and I especially love sad sports stories.” "I admire an author who presents stories and characters created from his heart and conscience." Grisham might have added one other point to his explanation. His books tend to address wickedness in society, ranging from cultural and political to just plain wrong behavior. When he sees evil, he writes about it. The civil wars in Africa are a tragedy that the continent has endured for decades. SOOLEY vividly describes the ongoing brutality confronting the citizens of the Sudanese and other African nations. In that same interview, Grisham makes clear that he hopes readers will respond to his novel by perhaps contributing to one of the organizations aiding those in Africa whose lives have been devastated in perpetual conflict. The life and times of Samuel Sooleymon make for thoughtful and poignant reading. We meet him on the mud-packed outdoor basketball courts of South Sudan as he lands an invitation to try out for the Under 18 National Team. During that summer, he grows from a scrawny, unpolished athlete to a superstar. Tragically, while he is in America, his homeland is ravaged by the ongoing civil war. His father is murdered, and the remainder of his family must flee their village and relocate to a refugee camp. Millions of his people --- 80% are women and children --- have been displaced by decades of war, fleeing to neighboring Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya. As the fighting continues, Samuel is still in the US but feels stripped of his homeland. He cannot return to South Sudan because his village no longer exists, and he has no idea where his family fled. But the basketball coach of North Carolina Central University, a historically Black college, takes a gamble on the young player and offers him a full basketball scholarship. Samuel is maturing both as an athlete and as a person, and eventually he is given the nickname “Sooley.” While SOOLEY may be his first basketball story, Grisham has decades of experience presenting readers with entertaining morality plays. The issues that strike a chord in his writing are often the ones discussed and debated in the national media. Here, readers move between basketball exploits in America and the suffering in African refugee camps. While making a name for himself in college basketball, Samuel keeps in touch with his family and works tirelessly to bring them to America. I have read and reviewed most of Grisham’s books, with the exception of A PAINTED HOUSE, SKIPPING CHRISTMAS and his Theodore Boone series of young adult novels. Long ago, I understood that his work requires some ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’ That level might be a bit higher here, but I am fine with it. I admire an author who presents stories and characters created from his heart and conscience.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    One doesn't become a best selling author without knowing how to tell a story, and John Grisham has obviously obtained a rare level of success that indicates he can effectively connect with readers. Grisham’s novels are concerned with the underdog who, against all odds, takes on giant corporations, “big government,” or terrorism and often wins. There was a time when I could not wait to read the next Grisham novel. Grisham spoiled me with gripping page turners so I picked this book hoping it would One doesn't become a best selling author without knowing how to tell a story, and John Grisham has obviously obtained a rare level of success that indicates he can effectively connect with readers. Grisham’s novels are concerned with the underdog who, against all odds, takes on giant corporations, “big government,” or terrorism and often wins. There was a time when I could not wait to read the next Grisham novel. Grisham spoiled me with gripping page turners so I picked this book hoping it would do that. Sorry this book is not a page turner but it is a fairly good story with some problems. Sooley is a book about Samuel Sooley Soolymoon's rise from total obscurity to becoming a virtual overnight basketball sensation. Sooley is fairly one dimensional character and the novel spends way to much time on basketball jargon, endless discourse about the game of basketball, and whole chapters describing basketball games. I found myself skipping pages and pages of the description of the games. It was like hearing them on radio.... each dribble, each attempted shot, etc. way, way past boring and made for a weak plot. If you are not a basketball fan will you understand all this jargon? Perhaps Mr. Grisham forgot he has a world wide audience. The secondary plot involves the sad plight of Sooley's mother brother and sister as they escape war torn Sudan to a camp in Uganda. Sooley with wealth and fame in his grasp tries to bring his family to the U.S. This portion of the book is tragic but I felt Grisham didn't develop this story enough to generate the emotional impact it deserved. Grisham missed a perfect opportunity to bring attention to the South Sudanese refugee plight to mass an diverse audience. It would have been nice to add at the end of the book an addendum for readers and fans to help aid the people of Sudan who are real victims caught in the middle dealing with rebel factions. Lastly, I was mostly disappointed in how Grisham chose to end this book. All of this buildup of one character and it ended in an "air ball ending." I had the foreboding sense tragedy was coming and sure enough it did. Maybe it is the times we live in, but I was truly hoping for an ending that didn't involve tragedy with the main character. Mr. Grisham you ruined a good story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I have to admit that I was skeptical about reading this book, but being a fan of Grisham, I went for it. I am so glad I did. It makes no difference whether you are a fan of basketball or not, this book will tug at your heartstrings. Just try it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lyle Boylen

    John Grisham doesn't always write legal novels, Sooley being one of them. A touching story of Sooley, a young man from South Sudan, basketball bringing him to the US, and his efforts to bring his family to America. John Grisham doesn't always write legal novels, Sooley being one of them. A touching story of Sooley, a young man from South Sudan, basketball bringing him to the US, and his efforts to bring his family to America.

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